Seven Reasons To Visit Europe This Holiday Season

by Jessica Montevago
Seven Reasons To Visit Europe This Holiday Season

German Christmas market. Photo: LenDog64

Europe always is and always will be the most dynamic destination for North American travelers. In a year when the news might have made customers hesitate during the high season, keep in mind that it has plenty to offer your clients in the wintertime, too.

Travel makes a great gift.
Studies show that people value experiences much more than material possessions. A trip to Europe with friends and family is a Bucket List gift of a lifetime.

The food and wine. 
For hands-on food and wine experiences that connect you with the people and places, there’s no place like Europe. Try the traditional or explore new cuisines in the home of great chefs and great wines.

Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold escorted journeys, for example, provide access to vineyards, bakeries, restaurants and farms, taking guests behind the scenes to see how local products are harvested and prepared on five continents. Meet a third-generation olive oil maker and follow the evolution of the olive from tree to table, or talk about grape varieties with a wine expert in the Loire Valley.

Noting that the most popular destinations for food experiences are Barcelona, Madrid and Paris, Avanti Destinations has introduced a dozen new food-themed tours and activities in France and Spain, including tapas tours, a Barcelona Walking Food Tour, and Private Taverns & Markets tours in Barcelona and Madrid. Contiki, meanwhile, has created several “Munch” itineraries that focus on food.

The Christmas markets.
For those who are looking for more something more than sun and sand, Europe can be a magical place. Christmas Markets, selling warm drinks, holiday treats and gifts under lights and holiday decorations, can be found in cities across the continent.

“The European Christmas Markets will always draw crowds,” said Rudi Steele, president of Rudi Steele Travel. Despite the recent terrorist attacks, “people have a very short memory and the good always lingers longer than the bad.”

Remember too that you can get to the Christmas markets a by cruise ship as well, and partake of special programming for every religious background.

Something for every age. 
Jody Rains, CTA, of Strong Travel Services, says her clients with families want to visit large European cities, like Paris, London, Rome and Florence because there is so much for everyone to do. Try to keep families traveling together in guaranteed connecting rooms, she suggests. “Many families are still traveling and have not changed plans because of the issues that have happened – I have not seen any cancellations,” Rains said.

Fewer crowds.
Traveling during the off-season means you can see all the sites without the hassles – and prices are lower as well.

Winter sports.
Ski the Alps or visit snow-capped Scandinavia – whether you like skiing and snowboarding or enjoying the picturesque landscape, Europe in the winter months provides a completely different experience than in the summer. One Collette tour in Finland, for example, highlights unique winter offerings: staying overnight in a glass igloo and a Finnish log cabin; seeing Lappish reindeer; and leading your own dog sled team.

It’s as safe as anywhere.
Some may be shaken by recent headlines, but it’s important to remember that terrorism can happen anywhere – and you can’t stop living life out of fear. “I used to ask clients who were worried about safety while on trips, ‘Is it safe to go downtown Dallas?‘ ” Steele said. “Travel goes on and life goes on. Enjoy every moment just as if it were the last one.”

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